Last reviewed 12 April 2012

Three directives will be repealed and replaced on 8 May 2012 by one regulation, writes Paul Clarke.

Regulation 1007/2011 on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products will repeal and replace the following directives.

  • Directive 2008/121/EC on textile names.

  • Directive 96/73/EC on certain methods for the quantitative analysis of binary textile fibre mixtures.

  • Directive 73/44/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the quantitative analysis of ternary fibre mixtures.

The information required by the new regulation, available here, concerns the composition of the textile products, which must be provided using harmonised fibre names. The regulation also stipulates methods to check on whether the composition of textile products is in conformity with the information supplied.

Textile names

Member States recognised as long ago as the 1970s the need for harmonisation of the legislation in the area of textile names, which could otherwise create a technical barrier to trade. In order to eliminate potential obstacles to the proper functioning of the internal market caused by Member States' diverging provisions with regard to textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of fibre composition of textile products, it was decided to harmonise the names of textile fibres and the indications appearing on labels, markings and documents that accompany textile products at the various stages of their production, processing and distribution.

The European Commission therefore issued a directive to harmonise the names of textile products as well as requiring them to appear on labels and marketing documents. That directive was amended several times and consolidated finally in the above three directives — 2008/121/EC, 96/73/EC and 73/44/EEC. Together they are known as the Textile Directives.

The consolidating regulation

All products containing at least 80% by weight of textile fibres, including raw, semi-worked, worked, semi-manufactured, semi-made and made-up products, are covered in the regulation. A list of exceptions is provided in its Annex V and includes disposable articles and flags. The indication of the fibre composition is mandatory in all stages of the industrial processing and commercial distribution of a product. The names and descriptions of the fibres are listed in Annex I of the regulation, which contains 48 fibre names and their description. These include silk, cotton, wool, kapok, flax (or linen), sisal and the hair of numerous animals including alpaca, llama, camel, angora, goat and otter.

What's new?

The regulation is based on the Textile Directives, revising them in line with recent legislative standards to facilitate its direct applicability and to ensure that companies and public authorities can readily identify their rights and obligations. Compared with the directives, the regulation introduces a simpler legislative process to adapt to technical progress, avoiding transposition of technical updates. Further simplification is foreseen via a transition towards a standard-based system, where the detailed description of quantification methods to be used by market surveillance authorities will be replaced by references to European standards.

Minimum technical requirements for applications for a new fibre name are introduced, as is a general obligation to state the full fibre composition of textile products and a new requirement to indicate the presence of non-textile parts of animal origin. The conditions of labels and marks indicating the composition are clarified, as is the exemption applicable to customised products made up by self-employed tailors. Finally, labelling of felts and felt hats is made compulsory.

In the case of binary textile fibre mixtures, for which there is no uniform method of analysis at Union level, the laboratory responsible for the test should be allowed to determine the composition of such mixtures, indicating in the analysis report the result obtained, the method used and its degree of accuracy.